Discrepancies between statements from the mother of a local student murdered in Tallahassee and information provided by Leon County Schools (LCS) raises questions about how LCS accounts for students that seek to withdraw from school and the subsequent impact on graduation statistics.
TR reported on March 29, 2019, that Godby High School had the highest number of homeschool students in Leon County with 231. Previously, TR also published a report that showed 33% of homeschool students were not in annual compliance.
According to the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) Accountability Coordinator Ashlie Kraft, if a student is withdrawn from a traditional high school, like Godby, into homeschooling, the traditional high school’s graduation rate is not adversely affected if that student never graduates.
However, according to Shelly Bell, Director of Career, Technical and Adult Education at LCS, if a student is withdrawn to seek his GED, it does adversely affect the high school’s graduation rate.
In a February 27, 2019 Tallahassee Democrat story, LCS Spokesperson Chris Petley stated that Cobi Mathis, a teenager who was shot and died on February 25, 2019 in a day care parking lot “was a student at Godby up until January when he disenrolled and went into homeschool.”
However, Mathis’s mother, Varshawndyna Pleas, says she never considered homeschooling and she withdrew him in mid-February to attend Lively to get his GED.
Pleas was referring to Adult and Community Education (ACE), located on Lively’s campus.
Pleas said she wanted her son to remain at Godby and graduate, but he wanted to get his GED.
“Cobi was never homeschooled,” Pleas said.
“I didn’t want him getting a GED. I told him ‘You’re going through a rough patch now but what about later when you’re older and want a career and all you have is a GED?’” she said.
She said Mathis had attendance problems and so she reluctantly agreed to “transfer” him to Lively. She said the high school never pressured her to withdraw Mathis. It was his idea.
Pleas said Mathis was attending Godby just a week or so before he was to attend Lively. She said he was withdrawn after a school holiday, which, according to LCS’ 2018/2019 academic calendar was Presidents Day on February 18th.
“Cobi was supposed to start at Lively the day he was shot (Feb. 25th),” Pleas said.
Bell confirmed that a student could withdraw from high school and be in ACE on Lively’s campus a week later, if the student attended orientation during that week.
Tallahassee Reports contacted Petley about the discrepancy between his statement and Pleas’ recollection.
Petley said although it is LCS’s policy to not disclose where students attend school, (It is not public information, per FDOE), he confirmed the information in the above statement to the Tallahassee Democrat because the reporter already knew Mathis attended Godby. Petley said he believed he (Petley) originally got the information for that statement from the Godby principal.
TR then asked Petley to double check the date Mathis was “disenrolled” and if he was withdrawn to homeschool.
Petley said according LSCs student information system Mathis was withdrawn the first week in February, not January and acknowledged his mistake in saying in the Tallahassee Democrat story it was in January. That date still conflicts with Pleas’ recollection.
Petley, again confirmed Cobi Mathis was withdrawn to homeschool.
Tallahassee Reports is seeking more information from LCS.
If they student is 18, “home school” is meaningless as there is no compulsory attendance law applicable. If LCS classifies a drop out as “homeschool” without the parent registering as home schooling the student, LCS is defrauding the public.
I am not really sure I understand the point of this article, and why this discrepancy is such a big deal.
It’s a big deal because it was done intentionally for Financial Gain for the School AND, where there is ONE their is usually MORE and if there is more, there is a Big Problem.
Rocky Hanna is liable for this situation. Parents should be outraged. Rocky showed us who he is when he did not pay child support for 10 years, now this tragedy. Malfeasance. School silent. School responds, hire a branding firm.
It is not uncommon for school districts to label students they have forced or pushed out (for whatever reason) as having ‘gone to homeschooling’ so the students are not recorded as drop outs and therefore do not affect the school’s standings. Every homeschool family has heard of the phone calls from upset parents who want to know where they now take their children for homeschooling after a school puts them out. As homeschoolers, we care about all students and find it difficult to accept what we call, “throwaways”. I’m so sorry this happened to another young person who probably just needed help finding their way.
I just hope nobody is smart to trace this problem to that 8000 pound elephant hiding quietly in the corner of the room.
Thats right folks finger point all you want but ultimately you will have to agree its the voters of Leon County to blaim.
If this had been a one off I would even call myself wrong for having the audacity to even say such a hurtful thing.
But its not a one off is it?
The voters of Leon County including Tallahassee keep electing these kind of people again and again and again…and again.
Whats up with this reporting? It sounds like the school is more concerned about their stats & per capita funding than the fact a young boy was shot. You dont see anything like “we are sorry for your loss” “its a tragedy” or “what does your family need during this sad time in your life” Thats exactly why ppl are pulling their kids out of these heartless school systems. The quest is for higher test scores, more money at the expense of the mental&spiritual health of the students. Not to mention zero tolerance against bullying is never enforced, school shootings like Columbine, West Paducah, Sandy Hook & VA Tech. Campus sexual assaults. No one is safe on a public school campus. Its why we pulled our sons out of school & homeschooled. They both went on to college. One son earned a BS in Business, and the other earned a MA in Math. Both got jobs and earned their Eagle Scout Award
Varshawndyna Pleas (the mother) says of her son: ” Mathis had attendance problems and so she reluctantly agreed to “transfer” him to Lively”. Why was she unable to control her son? At least to get him to attend school?? This explains why he was in some parking lot, when he should have been in school or at home. Yes, our public school system certainly is in bad shape; but it’s unfair to blame all of these things on the school. This young person was able to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and wherever he wanted which is why he ended up the way he did. Most kids will get into trouble if they’re not properly looked after.
God forbid you should work to earn a living. And be a single parent. And be poor and under educated, most likely by the same school district as your child. Her child is dead and that is your comment? This article is NOT about her failings. It is about how the school district manipulates data about students to game the system and the consequences of their policies. And remember the Board sets policy. This is Alva, Rosanne, DeeDee, Darryl and Joy who enable and allow this to happen. They don’t care about this child or so many others like him. They are spending money to attract more students with a branding campaign! How about educating the ones you have in your charge. Or are they not the right demographic? And blaming a grieving mother sounds exactly like something this school district would do. Don’t stoop to their level.
Mimi, well said.
At Godby and Rickards High Schools they have been placing students into advance placement US history so that students do not have to take the state U.S. History test instead they take the AP test. The scores do not count towards school grades or accountability. Rocky Hanna is well aware of the practice as is Chris Petley. This should be investigated by the state as their manipulating the system, in the end these schools are receiving school improvement dollars based on a highly suspect placement of students to manipulate data. Leon County Schools the brand is malpractice and malfeasance.
The communication department run by Chris Petley and Rocky Hanna need to go. They have no idea how to work the system. Rocky NEVER responds to emails from citizens and tax payers.
Even if he WAS withdrawn to Home School, WHY would he STILL be on Godby’s List and Counted?
Why would he be a subsequent impact on graduation statistics for Godby if he no longer goes to School there?
There are two windows that count for FTE funding. A student has to be on the rolls one week in October and one in February and the school district gets funding for the student for the whole year. So assuming he was on the rolls in the February fte week and then they marked him homeschool they 1) got $ for him and didn’t educate him and 2) avoided having him counted as a drop out to keep their graduation rates up. He is dead and the fact that no one gave a hoot about him and just saw him as a statistic to be manipulated I believe contributed to his demise. Thankfully the mom says she wasn’t pressured to take him out by the school – but who will ever know if he himself was pressured or encouraged by LCS to leave? And why right after they get him counted for funding?
WOW…… If any of you have never seen the Movie “Pump Up The Volume” with Christian Slater, you should see it now, it is all about this stuff.
Well maybe the public relations that the school board just voted to spend money on which is really not to do branding but to do DAMAGE CONTROL for all their missteps will add this to the list to smooth over before their next election campaigns so they can attempt to dupe voters.
Rocky Hanna should be suspended while the state investigates this. Hanna spends $58,000 on a PR Company, hello school board the Leon County brand is led by a man that as a High School Principal dated the teachers he supervised, he admitted making out with them during school hours in the parking lot, and bullied one of them into a transfer with a taxpayer funded monetary settlement. He lied to parents at graduation speeches, he deliberately hid from child support obligations while acknowledging he was the father, he had to be sued for back child support, he pays his hand picked buddies $100,000 each while teachers are the 46th lowest paid in Florida. You pay a PR firm more than a 15 teacher makes, laughable. The LCS brand is MALFEASANCE!
Desperate people do desperate things.
Would Warren make Gillum her Veep?
I remember Tallahassee’s loyal leftist voting sheeple’s hearts all swelled with pride upon finding out Gillum was on Hillary’s Veep short list back in 2016.
Never mind that Hillary’s Veep short list was a mile long and she selected some weird little leprechaun looking Caucasian to march with her to her great 2016 victory.
Tallahassee’s loyal leftist voting sheeple get annoyed when confronted with facts.
Lets sit back and watch local hearts once again swell with pride!
OMG I sure hope Gillum does not get indicted for any FBI local corruption investigation related activities for the sake of our loyal leftist voting sheeple.
Oh was this article about some LCSB local malfeasance, lying, or just general dum @ss’ness? I like Maven’s side bar topic better.
Gillum would end Warren’s chances in 2020…relax it’s just desperate pandering for a few of the minority votes that are gonna landslide to Trump anyway.
I have to wonder how many Deep State obama-loyalists in the Washington FBI and DOJ headquarters are anticipating (and hoping) Warren will become their new boss in 2020.
Might these same Deep-Staters work hard to terminate any FBI investigations into Gillum to make Warren happy? We don’t want to embarrass candidate Warren by doing anything to her running mate Gillum, do we?
I thought it was a parents choice to home school their children. A school district should not be able to tell a parent ” you have to school your kids”. These parents still pay taxes and we have a free public education system. Sounds like Leon County Schools are running a sham to make their drop out rate look better. I wonder if Hanna will change this with his new branding approved at the Board meeting last night. New leadership is needed in 2020.
Rocky: if you’re looking for something to brand, call your BFF Gwen. She’s got all those cows down in Doral on that ag-exempted lot, amirite?